ARCHIVED – Speaking notes for The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
At a news conference to announce special measures for temporary and permanent residents affected by the flooding in Southern Alberta, as well as the launch of Canada’s new and more secure 10-year ePassport
July 2, 2013
I’m Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and I’m pleased to be joined by my colleague Joan Crockatt, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre and in whose constituency we are. First of all, I’m happy to announce that the Harry Hays Government of Canada building is, as you can see, open for business again. It was closed since the floods and I gather has incurred some damages, especially in the parking, but if people need federal services they can come back downtown here to Harry Hays to receive benefits from the various ministries here, including Service Canada and Passport Canada, which is the primary subject of our announcement today.
But first, let me acknowledge and thank everyone who have done so much to help reopen this building, to thank the hard-working officials of my ministry, in particular, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, for allowing us to get a couple of citizenship ceremonies done even when the building was closed here, and thank Joan and all of my parliamentary colleagues for the brilliant work that they and others have done to help Albertans and Calgarians recover from the recent floods.
And, in that regard, I wanted to make an announcement. I have two announcements to make today. First of all, one with respect to special immigration measures for temporary and permanent residents affected by the recent floods, and secondly, about important announcements regarding Passport Canada.
First of all, as you know, Southern Alberta is the home to many thousands of temporary and permanent residents, some of whom were quite severally affected by the floods and some of whom may have lost documents, some of whom may have been waiting to apply for an extension of their temporary residency, or perhaps were planning to make permanent residency applications and who have lost documents or perhaps misplaced their applications as a result of the floods.
So I wanted to formally announce what I’ve already indicated informally, that we have put in place, until September 19th of this year, a waiver for fees and status will be automatically extended or restored for those temporary or permanent residents who have been affected directly by the flooding.
In order to be eligible, temporary and permanent residents will need to demonstrate that they’ve been affected by the flooding, such as having a residential address in an affected community or being registered with the Red Cross. All requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis as required.
In addition, a dedicated telephone line has been set up at Immigration Canada’s call centre. People can call us toll-free if they’ve been affected by the floods and they need information on their immigration status. They can call us toll-free at 1-888-242-2100, that’s 1-888-242-2100, and then press ‘7’ to talk directly to an agent in my ministry about how to proceed with their application.
Similarly, we’ve set up a dedicated email address, which you can find on the website. It’s email@example.com. This has also been set up for urgent enquiries.
Finally, special procedures have been put in place to help people who need to apply for urgent immigration documents or replacement of immigration documents.
We hope that, in this small way, we can help ease people’s anxiety about their status in Canada so they can focus on the important business of caring for their families, getting back to work and rebuild their homes and lives. So for more information on these special measures for temporary and permanent residents affected by the floods, we welcome them to visit the Alberta flood section of my ministry’s website: cic.gc.ca.
Now, as I’ve mentioned, CIC’s office in Calgary is located right here in the Harry Hays Building, which is now reopened for business effective today. I would just ask people to note the advice of the city with respect to parking and only coming downtown if it’s essential right now, if it’s necessary, because of course there’s limited parking and people might find it logistically difficult traveling down here. Of course, there are two Service Canada offices open elsewhere in Calgary, the Passport Canada in Calgary on Macleod Trail South and Service Canada offices back up and running in Canmore and elsewhere.
So now to my second announcement. Effective today, the primary responsibility for Canada’s passport program moves from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This is all about improving services to Canadians, making them more convenient and accessible. So on my first day as Minister responsible for the passport program, I’m pleased to announce that Canada’s new and more secure ePassport is available. Canadians aged 16 and over now have the option also of applying for 10-year passports, and here’s our new passport with the electronic chip, highly-secure, that will help us combat documentary fraud, improve the security of our borders and our travel documents, and, with a 10-year availability, will make it much more convenient for Canadian travellers.
No longer will Canadians have to be constantly worrying about when their passport expires and having to go back and renew, sometimes waiting for weeks or longer. Now they’ll have peace of mind that they’ll have a highly-secure Canadian passport available for a decade at a lower cost per year as a result of the new fee structure. This is good news for Canada, for Canadian travellers, and Canadian citizens in particular.
It also means that Canadians will, as I say, not have to renew their passport as frequently as in the past. The new ePassport contains new security features, including an imbedded electronic chip and sophisticated imagery. An extra layer of identity verification also makes Canada’s passport far more secure against fraud. The chip in the passport, let me be clear, stores only the same personal information as is recorded on the second page of the passport, where you have your basic personal information, and so there’s no violation of privacy rights possible with this because as soon as that information is placed on the electronic chip, it’s locked. Nothing can be added or taken away or distorted, and it’s much easier for both our border officials and those in other countries with compatible technology to verify the authenticity of the passport, that in fact it was issued by Canada.
I should also say that our new passports are more interesting and colourful, instructive. We have pages depicting various iconic moments in Canadian history – the Fathers of Confederation, the Last Spike, Pier 21. Images that come from all across Canada’s great geography and history are also embedded as a security feature in the passport.
So one other point, in terms of a service improvement that is offered by moving Passport Canada from Foreign Affairs to Citizenship and Immigration, is that CIC specializes in large information technology systems to process hundreds of thousands of applications, and to do so with increasing efficiency online. That’s one of the reasons we’re moving the passport program to CIC. This means that in the foreseeable future, we will have a much more efficient system for online passport applications, which will be a massive improvement in terms of service and convenience. This will make the passport program more efficient and move more quickly.
So I want to make it clear that Canadians will not experience any interruption in service through this movement of Passport Canada from Foreign Affairs to Immigration Canada. Indeed, with this move, Canadians will continue to experience the same great passport services they have come to expect, and will be able to access services through the existing network of 144 Service Canada locations across the country, 56 Canada Post intake locations, and 34 passport offices across the country. Over time, we will expand our service of network of Service Canada Centre locations, which will make passport services even more accessible to Canadians. So for those who have suggested that this is about diminishing services, the opposite is true. There will be more points of service available to Canadians, and the ability to apply online.
In closing, let me say that ePassports are the international norm in travel documents. In fact, if anything, Canada is a little bit behind the curve in catching up with this secure technology. Canada’s new ePassport will contribute to enhance border security and facilitate safe, secure travel, which in turn will help us to create job growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians. This is in keeping with our Government’s efforts to crack down on fraud in order to strengthen our immigration system, secure our borders, and keep Canada open to legitimate travellers.
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